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Curves Ahead: The Sheriff's Deputies
To play Sommerton's rag-tag team of deputies -- who have never seen much more than petty crime until the ultimate bad guy blows into their town - Jee-woon and the filmmakers went through an extensive casting process to put together an eclectic ensemble of characters.

Says producer di Bonaventura: "There's a great group of deputies surrounding Ray Owens, played by Luis Guzman, Jaimie Alexander and Zach Gilford. They're not the most experienced cops, they've never been tested, but they're great people. And then there's the town bad boy, played by Rodrigo Santoro, who suddenly has a chance at redeeming his up-to-now less than successful life. And then lastly, Johnny Knoxville plays Lewis Dinkum, the local oddball, who is about to get his chance to be what he always wanted: a deputy."

Sheriff Owens' most experienced deputy, known as "Figgie" by his friends on his force, is played by popular character actor Guzman, who brings a comic touch to the role. "Luis is both very funny and very talented --- and he made Figgie endearing and lovable," says Jee-Woon.

Adds di Bonaventura: "On the page, Figgie wasn't funny at all but now, there are moments where he is fall down funny. Luis created this sort of wide-eyed appreciator of life, family and friends. You love him because he always shows who he is and what he's thinking on his face."

For his part, Guzman could not resist the chance to work opposite Schwarzenegger. "I grew up watching Arnold in all these movies and now, here I was, acting with him in all these scenes," Guzmán muses. "It was a wonderful opportunity.'"

Joining Guzman as Deputy Sarah Torrance -- the sole female on the force -- is Jaimie Alexander, best known for her super-hero roles in the action epic THOR and the ABC Family television show KYLE XY. Here she plays a more human character who isn't quite sure if she's got what it takes to be a hero -- until push comes to shove. Jee-woon was excited to watch her in action. "Jaimie is beautiful but she embodies the strength and bravery of a true Texas girl," the director comments. "She is our only female heroine but she kept up with the men at every turn."

Alexander loved playing a regular girl who, when the going gets tough, becomes tougher than she ever knew was possible. "My character's not a super hero, and that's a good thing. There's a vulnerability in her that every woman has, she also discovers that she's very strong," she says. "She's an everyday woman just trying to be something better. There's a realism to her that I don't get to play very often, since many of my other characters are science fiction... but it's awesome to play somebody that could actually exist on Earth!"

Indeed, di Bonaventura says Alexander brought an earthiness to her action scenes. "Jaimie brings a vulnerability and a sexiness to the movie," he says. "Her character is perhaps a bit over-matched, but when the Sheriff realizes how bad it's going to get, and says that he's not going to hold it against any of them if they don't want to participate, she's in. She's the one I think you really relate to: 'I'm not that well trained, I'm doing my job, but I hope that when I'm asked to do the right thing, I'd be in.'"

The newest member of the deputy team is the green recruit Jerry played by Zach Gilford who came to the fore playing quarterback Matt Saracen on the long-running hit FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. For Jee-woon, he was the biggest surprise. "Zach is someone I did not know, except that I heard he was acclaimed for FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. He did such a great job playing a small-town kid with big dreams and his story becomes the emotional heart of the battles ahead," says the director.

When Sheriff Owens realizes he has to beef up his fledgling force, he is forced to deputize two locals - who see their own chance to make good. One is museum owner Lewis Dinkum, played with an inimitable sense of comic mischief by popular funny-man Johnny Knoxville. As renowned for his crazy stunts as for his unhinged humor - and for roles in hit films ranging from JACKASS to MEN IN BLACK II -- Knoxville was a dead-on match for Dinkum. Says Jee-woon: "Johnny has a unique sense of humor, but he is not just a simple comic actor. He continually tries to better himself and you see that in his performance."

The director continues: "Dinkum is a fusion between Johnny Knoxville's funny personality and a military geek. Johnny portrays the unique quirkiness of a character that makes it possible for our heroes to defeat sophisticated, modern villains using antique weaponry, which adds some fun."

Knoxville was lured by the combustible mix of Schwarzenegger joining with one of Korea's hottest action directors. "My agents sent me the script, and told me it was Arnold's big comeback movie. I think that's about all they had to say," Knoxville laughs. "Another big reason I wanted to do the film is that I had seen THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD, and I know Kim Jee-woon shoots an amazing action film. There are so many elements going on in this story, yet the tone is spot on, and there's lots of humor as well. I think he's a really talented and very precise director."

The least likely of those to get a badge from the Sheriff starts out the story behind bars: Frank Martinez, the local troublemaker who turns direction. He is played in a departure by rising Brazilian star Rodrigo Santoro, familiar to moviegoers as not only a romantic lead (LOVE ACTUALLY), but also as a fanatical despot ("King Xerxes" in 300).

Jee-woon says he fell in love with Santoro's acting within minutes of watching a clip of him. "He can be very masculine and very cool," he says. "And he was very enthusiastic about this part, always trying to get more out of every take."

Di Bonaventura adds: "Rodrigo threw himself into this part in a way that's just great. His character has an interesting arc -- he was the guy that won the State Championship and then never went anywhere, except to war, which messed him up. So he knows this is his one chance."

Santoro was especially thrilled to take on an action role. "What's great about big action movies is that the characters are usually bigger than life. They always push the limits," he observes. "Where else can you drive a car over 250-miles-an-hour and not get a ticket? And now I'm finding out how much fun it is to do."

He also was excited to watch Arnold being Arnold. "For me, a great action hero usually doesn't start out being a hero," Santoro concludes. "He's usually an ordinary man who finds himself in extraordinary situations, and he rises to the occasion. Not that Arnold is ordinary, but in this story, he's a cop who's come home to be an ordinary Sheriff, away from big crime. Only big crime is exactly what comes looking for him."

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